viernes, 28 de abril de 2017

Patrick Messina / Fabrizio Chiovetta SCHUMANN Music for Clarinet

The clarinetist Patrick Messina and the pianist Fabrizio Chiovetta invite us to a journey through Schumann's poetic universe, from romance to fantasy and to tale. What better way to convey the inexpressible imagination of a composer who never choses between sounds and words than the intimacy of chamber music and the mellow timbre of the clarinet ? The disc features works that pull the auditor into Robert Schumann's productive years and a transcription made by the artists for the clarinet, the indeal autumnal and lyrical instrument. A duo with the viola player Pierre Lenert enhances the expressive palette of the disc. Besides, they don't forget Clara Schumann whose inspiration happens to communicate with Robert's in this beautiful chamber music program.

Duo Praxedis GRAND DUET - Originalwerke für Harfe & Klavier

The combination of harp and piano, which in the early classical era was a popular ensemble, is today very rare. In that period, this exciting duo frequently inspired many renowned composers. Sadly, as the centuries passed the relationship faded. The Swiss mother-and-daughter musicians Praxedis Hug-Rütti and Praxedis Geneviève Hug have set themselves the goal of breathing new life into this fascinating instrumental partnership, establishing its popularity with an international audience, and bringing it to the world's major concert halls. Although the two in- struments are so closely related to each other, they are nonetheless also highly different. Their rarely heard combination provides an especially refined musical delight.
“Duo Praxedis” was established in 1996 when it was invited to perform Bach's Double Concerto in a tran- scription for harp, piano and orchestra. Since 2009, the two artists regularly perform together in Switzerland and abroad. “Duo Praxedis” is a welcome guest at renowned international festivals such as the Schloss Esterhazy, Eisenstadt and Engadin festivals. They have recorded CDs for Guild, Paladino and Preiser. 2014 Duo Praxedis was awarded the UBS-Foundation-Prize for their commitment to contemporary music.
Since original compositions for harp and piano are only to be found in the early classical period, “Duo Praxedis” write their own arrangements of well-known master- pieces for two pianos or piano duet, transcriptions worthy of the highest respect, since it is virtually impossible to transpose explicitly romantic piano scores for the harp. They also frequently commission compositions from notable contemporary composers. The performances and interpretations of the two “Duo Praxedis” artists are legendary, with their passionately intense playing, varied programmes and infectious cheerfulness. Music to be not only heard but also seen, a new, previously unknown form of the art. “Duo Praxedis” is one of today's most attractive ensembles and a highlight in the international concert scene.

jueves, 27 de abril de 2017

Ensemble Scholastica ARS ELABORATIO

Montreal's female vocal group Ensemble Scholastica makes its ATMA Classique recording debut with Ars elaboratio, a program of newly composed elaborations on medieval liturgical songs. The original songs were chosen from the medieval plainchant repertoire in homage to the group's favourite saints: Scholastica, champion of education; Cecilia, patron saint of music; Catherine of Alexandria, champion of justice and female wisdom; and Saint John the Baptist, patron to the ensemble's home province of Québec.

These days, the kids call them remixes, but in the hands of musicologist Rebecca Bain, the music on Ars elaboratio is the product of taking plainchant and adding tropes from other sources to create new versions. This was not unheard of in the millennium that was not litigious about intellectual property and it was common because of a more flexible and oral, rather than notated, tradition of handing music down. Think of this as more serious Mediæval Babes repertoire with scholastically informed liberties, which in that era were called elaborations.
The result is litanies, antiphons, poetry and scripture that are often mesmerizing and calming, especially with the addition of symphonia or, in the instrumental version of Claris vocibus, of organetto, a portable precursor to the pipe organ, played with one hand on the keyboard and the other working the bellows. The medieval pronunciation charmed this Latinist, although I may have heard some elision, as in spoken Latin poetry recitation, which may throw some listeners. And there are spots in the CD booklet that omit the original liturgical text that is discussed (e.g. the melisma on “mulierum” in Velox impulit) so that only the tropes can be followed, if that is your wont.
The fascinating background to some of the elaborations contains some ballsy feminist stuff (praise of the chastity of innocent virgins aside), such as the one in Dilexisti iustitiam, in which St. Catherine of Alexandria kicks some male philosophical-debate butt. The approachable narrative in Sancti baptiste of “amice Christi Johannes” ([O] John, friend of Christ) reflects the presumed (relative) egalitarianism of the coeducational abbey of St. Martial de Limoges in the 1100s.
The acoustics of the Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours in Old Montreal lend themselves to a lovely presentation of the organic nine-voice Ensemble Scholastica. Hildegard of Bingen must be pumping her fist in coelis. (Vanessa Wells)

Giovanni Mazzocchin J.S. BACH Goldberg Variations BWV 988

The Goldberg Variations, BWV 988, are probably the main work (or at least the most renowned) of Johann Sebastian Bach. They are often played at the piano and the harpsichord, but also on the organ, or with chamber music ensemble (Quartets, Trios). First published in 1741, this monumental composition, consisting of an aria and a set of 30 variations, are named after Johann Gottlieb Goldberg, to whom they are dedicated, and who was probably the first performer. After a statement of the aria at the beginning, there are thirty variations that do not follow the melody, but its bass line.
Giovanni Mazzocchin (who recently recorded Beethoven's 5 late Sonatas for OnClassical, plays this (not easy) work with all repetitions and no pedal (!). On the repetitions he does improvisations as were typical during that epoch. 
Giovanni Mazzocchin is born in Bassano del Grappa in 1994. He studied at the Conservatory 'Arrigo Pedrollo' in Vicenza under the guidance of Marco Tezza.
During the years of conservatory he also attended masterclasses with some notable pianists such as Carlo Grante, Alexander Madzar and Filippo Gamba.
He degreed in 2012 with high degrees, honor and special mention.
Giovanni is now student at the University of the Padua in the faculty of Computer Science, and he combines the study with the musical interest.
He is as an OnClassical artist since November 2015. A first collaboration with the label includes the recording of the late sonatas by Ludwig van Beethoven, Opus 101 & 106 (Hammerklavier) and Opus 109, 110, 111, and the Bach's Goldberg Variations.

Mari Kodama / Momo Kodama TCHAIKOVSKY Ballet Suites for Piano Duo

Together for the first time in the recording studio, the sisters Mari and Momo Kodama are on scintillating form in these lively arrangements of music from Tchaikovsky’s ballets Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and Nutcracker. In another first, the release contains the first ever recording of Arensky’s transcription of the timeless Nutcracker together with notable arrangements by Debussy and Rachmaninov. 
Conceived on a grand scale, Tchaikovsky’s colourful, often passionate scores for the ballets Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and Nutcracker abound with graceful melodies, arresting harmonies and exuberant orchestration. The music has proved enduringly popular with audiences and rates among his most familiar and best-loved works. Composers such as Arensky, Debussy and Rachmaninov made arrangements of these works for piano, not mere reductions but wholesale realisations of the works, combining subtlety and insight with their own technical polish. 
“Tchaikovsky was really the first composer to combine a broad sweep of ballet music with a great story,” the Kodama sisters write in their introduction to the release, “before that, it more resembled a compilation of pieces…in all three works there is folkloric and popular music. He has the great skill to make such vivid colours and textures on a large canvas… This makes his orchestral works very special.”
“Our challenge was to use just two pianos … to bring the same sense of scale,” they write, “with just two pianos the atmosphere is more intimate, it brings a different quality to the music. And the composers who made the transcriptions brought their own personality to bear on the works. So we tried to reflect that in our playing.”
The sisters Mari and Momo Kodama both pursue busy international careers. Momo specialises in French and Japanese composers and 20th century and contemporary composers; she has been widely praised for her ‘attractive, lyrical tone’ and ‘technical brilliance’. Mari has established an international reputation for profound musicality and articulate virtuosity; she has recorded extensively for PENTATONE, including an acclaimed cycle of the complete Beethoven piano sonatas.
“We are quite different pianists and have our own ideas and approaches,” they write, “so we have spirited discussions. But we always find we are aiming for the same thing, usually from a different angle. So it’s been fun to record these works and it has brought us a lot of sisterly joy too!”  (PENTATONE)

miércoles, 26 de abril de 2017

Acacia Quartet ELENA KATS-CHERNIN Blue Silence

Blue Silence is the first ever recording of the complete works for string quartet by Elena Kats-Chernin. Elena Kats-Chernin is possibly Australia's most popular composer. In a recent public poll of music from the past 100 years conducted by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, her Eliza Aria was one of the highest-ranking Australian compositions. Eliza Aria is included on this new release. In the UK, it is particularly well-known as the theme music for Lloyds TSB's television campaign For The Journey that began in 2007 and continues today. As you can hear on this album, Elena's tuneful music combines lightheartedness with melancholy, blended with elements of cabaret, tango, ragtime, klezmer and Bach.
Acacia Quartet met Elena at a concert in 2011 and a great rapport was struck up. Acacia decided to learn all of Elena's quartet music (so far about 90 minutes, and counting), rehearse it extensively with her and perform it in concerts, then recording it under her supervision. Blue Silence was nominated for an APRA-AMCOS Art Music Award in 2013.

Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra ELENA KATS-CHERNIN Wild Swans

Elena Kats-Chernin was born in Tashkent, but moved to Australia in her teens and settled there after studying and working for over a decade in Germany. She has a knack for creating skillfully composed works with an immediate appeal to a broad range of audiences. She typically draws on a variety of musical traditions for her inspiration, and the suite from her ballet Wild Swans is a case in point. The fairytale of 11 brothers turned into swans whose sister saves them elicits an eclectic score of great delicacy, transparency, and inventiveness. The composer uses a solo soprano voice instrumentally in a wordless vocalise in many of the movements, to a lovely effect. Several movements of the score recall Philip Glass' music, from around the time of La Belle et la bête, and some parts have a Prokofievian sound, but Kats-Chernin's light and delicate touch is always evident. Jane Sheldon has a pure, supple voice that's ideal for the music. Ian Munro is the soloist in Kats-Chernin's lyrical Piano Concerto No. 2, a work with the same kind of stylistic diversity as the ballet suite. Mythic, a large-scale orchestral piece, has a dark, meditative character that sets it apart from the other works on the disc, and overall, it's less distinctive than the others. Ola Rudner conducts the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra in a polished reading of the scores. Kats-Chernin is rightfully becoming more recognized in the West, and this collection of three of her large scores makes a compelling introduction to her work. (

Ensemble Kapsberger / Rolf Lislevand ALFABETO

The Alfabetos are guitar tablatures which were used until the end of the 18th century, they scored the chords as letters as jazz and rock music tablatures noxadays do. These simplified scores tell the essential, giving the players all the freedom to improv and use their virtuosity. For a long time, Rolf Lislevand played the electric guitar, some rock and a lot of jazz music and just a little bit of classical guitar to enter the conservatory. Pat Metheny leads him to jazz guitar, but the real hit comes from a lute concert by Hopkinson Smith. He starts learning how to play the lute and other early instruments. Ever since, he has shared his time between the baroque and the jazz or alternative stages along his improvisations. 'The baroque music offers much room, there is always air around it' (Rolf Lislevand): Alfabeto proves that baroque music was born in the street, that it was above all a music to dance (folias,...), basically intended to entertain people...His musicians in his ensemble are virtuoso improvisers, they dare everything with as much freedom as possible. Three baroque guitars phrase, nuance, launch solos and rhythms, they converse with Arianne Savall's aerial vocalizations, Pedro Estevna's imaginative drums or Bjorn Kyellemyr, one of Charlie Mingus's disciples, who leaves her his double bass for some colascione. (Naïve)

Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg / Emmanuel Krivine / Karine Deshayes RAVEL Boléro - La Valse - Shéhérazade...

There is a lot to be said for French music performed by the French! An obvious point, but one belied in the history of recording by the traditionally iffy condition of French orchestras and the expatriate nature of great French conductors. In recent years, though, with cultural cross-fertilization a mere Internet click away, Francophone orchestras have begun to stand tall for the sheer excellence of their playing and set convincingly before listeners the special blend of sensuality and Cartesian lucidity that in so many ways makes France French. Gallic orchestras, one might say, are recapturing their musical patrimony through excellence. Indeed, the sort of virtuosity and precision to be found on Radio France these days would make George Szell and his Clevelanders proud. And now there is the French-speaking Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, under Emmanuel Krivine: beautifully disciplined and all of a piece.  
The special authenticity of orchestras performing music from their own culture is to be found in the little inner details of accent and articulation. Krivine and his musicians appear fascinated with each wriggle in Ravel’s world. Coloristic figurations other orchestras would play on automatic pilot suddenly mean something here. Every woodwind appears to have its own special accent and personality. Even in the snare drum, flurries of atmospheric notes acquire more than a background purpose. and flickers of light illuminate more than just rotating shards in the kaleidoscope. Krivine’s approach emphasizes a sort of Toscaninian precision, or at least I think so. Despite pleasant words written about the Luxembourg Philharmonie, the auditorium as recorded here sounds nearly as crackly as NBC’s notorious Studio 8H—beautifully balanced—but dry as a radiator. The sound itself is good, with an amazingly solid bass line, but the acoustic picture is so flat as to destroy any real sensuality being sought. But taken on its own terms, this analytical close-up is quite fascinating.  
La Valse and especially Une Barque sur l’océan have a lot more going on within than is normally audible, and Krivine’s precision pays real dividends. I thought more of both pieces after hearing this performance. Shéhérazade suffers a bit, though, from the sheer lack of voluptuous appeal. Karine Deshayes sings beautifully, but I’d judge her to be one of the less-voluptuous mezzos around. Her performance does nothing to dislodge Janet Baker, who not only managed the French accent in her classic recording, but also contributed that special timbre of voice that identified her immediately, no matter which note was being sung. And someone looking for a real wallow should turn to Renée Fleming, still in fresh and lush timbre, whose sensuality, flirtatiousness, and feeling for her own charisma play beautifully into Ravel’s hands. (Steven Kruger)

martes, 25 de abril de 2017

Tamara-Anna Cislowska ELENA KATS-CHERNIN Unsent Love Letters - Meditations on Erik Satie

After the death of Erik Satie, dozens of unsent love letters were found in his Paris apartment. Now composer Elena Kats-Chernin and pianist Tamara-Anna Cislowska send those letters off, in 26 meditative and passionate piano miniatures inspired by Satie’s extraordinary life and music.
The album is a musical memoir from one composer to another, from the Uzbekistan-born Australian to the French composer whose eccentricities are legendary and music timeless. “Satie’s life was a fascinating, fervoursome affair,” says pianist Tamara-Anna Cislowska, “from the first strike of love and then lifelong estrangement with artist and muse Suzanne Valadon, to the unexpected celebrity and conflict of his last ten years. After he died, friends gaining access to his apartment, for the first time in almost three decades, found conditions both perplexing and romantically fastidious in their own way: two grand pianos one atop the other, one chair, one table, seven velvet suits and the love letters – many, many unsent love letters.”
The album reflects on idiosyncrasies and anecdotes from Satie’s life, with music that ranges from seductive orientalism to hypnotic melodies reminiscent of the ground-breaking, transcendent beauty of Satie’s own piano pieces: ‘imaginary building’ reflects on his sketches of imaginary buildings (which he even advertised in the newspaper for rent and purchase); ‘very shiny’, one of his characteristically opaque performance directions; ‘postcard to a critic’, after Satie’s explosive response to a negative review (leading to a spell in gaol). The buoyant rhythms and rhapsodic harmonic style that have brought Kats-Chernin a reputation as one of the best-loved composers of her generation provide the perfect lens to reflect on a musical great of the previous century.

"If Elena Kats-Chernin had married Erik Alfred Leslie Satie, their musical children would have sounded like the 26 little piano pieces on this beguiling album... Deceptively simple and unadorned, they trickle off the nimble fingers of Tamara-Anna Cislowska... This is the kind of music that could exist at various levels ... all the way to late-night cabaret acts in Spiegeltents, best accompanied by exotic libations... it is hard to argue with its sincerity, wit and charm." (The Australian, April 2017)

Roman Mints / Evgenia Chudinovich TRANSFORMATIONS 20th Century Works for Violin & Piano

This album brings together some of the best music for violin & piano written in the last century. Alongside with the such well-known masters Penderecki, Lutoslawski, Gubaidulina and Schnitttke we can hear works of their younger collegues Elena Langer and Artem Vassiliev. Both performes demonstrate their virtuosity in interpretating this extremly demanding repertoir. 5 pieces by Artem Vassiliev take us on a journey trough modern styles from minimalism to jazz.
The title work, "Transformations" by Elena Langer is very romantic, fresh and impressive piece which changes from a dream world of first movement through an agressive and ecstatic mood of the second to the "new light" in the end. The work is probably the most appealing on the disc. Lutoslawski's Subito is a demanding virtuoso piece which gives Mints a chance to show his seductive tone and his command of the instrument. Part's Fratres is a religious meditation executed with great feeling. Works by Gubaidulina and Penderecki involve pianist playing inside piano and thus, explore new sound dimensions. In general, this album is outstanding and is a joy to listen to. (Amazon)

lunes, 24 de abril de 2017

Anna Dennis / William Towers / Nicholas Daniel ELENA LANGER Landscape With Three People

A selection of chamber works by Elena Langer (b.1974, Moscow), notable for their playful counterpoint and delicate textures. The London-based composer delights in exploring the endless soundworlds of voices and instruments. 'Landscape With Three People' dates from 2013, with texts by poet Lee Harwood. 
Elena moved to London to complete her degrees first at the Royal College of Music and then at the Royal Academy of Music. She has studied with Julian Anderson, Simon Bainbridge, Gerard McBurney and taken lessons with Sofia Gubaidulina (Centre Acanthes, France), Dmitri Smirnov, Jo Kondo and Jonathan Harvey. In 2002 and 2003 Elena was the first ever composer-in-residence at the Almeida Theatre, London. 
She has received commissions and performances from organisations such as The Royal Opera House's ROH2, Zurich Opera, Carnegie Hall, The Britten and Strauss Festival in Aldeburgh, Park Lane Group, St. Petersburg's Music Spring, Chamber Music Series "XX/XXI" of the Bayerische Staatsoper (Germany). 
This recording project was generously funded by Blyth Valley Chamber Music, the Ralph Vaughan Williams Trust and a large number of individuals. The new CD will be launched in parallel with the first public performances in Cardiff of the composer’s 'Figaro Gets A Divorce', a new opera for Welsh National Opera under David Pountney. 

“An enticing sonic tapestry, pitched midway between the expressive avant-garde tumult of Berio and the rough-and-tumble of folk music.” THE TIMES

Iestyn Davies / Arcangelo / Jonathan Cohen BACH Cantatas Nos 54, 82 & 170

The question is not if but when a distinguished countertenor decides to record the Bach solo alto cantatas. The catalogue offers a remarkable range of individual vocal timbres which seem to influence interpretative parameters to a startling degree. One thinks of Alfred Deller’s small, floating lines unveiling exquisite intimations in Cantatas Nos 54 and 170 (with the young Leonhardt and Harnoncourt and their future wives) testing the historical waters in the early 1950s (Vanguard). At the other extreme, Andreas Scholl projects his honeyed and flexible instrument with richly uncompromising projection (Harmonia Mundi, 5/98).
Iestyn Davies falls somewhere in between the two and yet he is no less distinctive in personality and musical ambition. Jonathan Cohen’s invigorating direction of the top notch Arcangelo and Davies’s extraordinarily questing approach make for a happy balance between abstract delight and rhetorical flair. For example, in the centrepiece of No 170, ‘Wie jammern’—a world turned upside down by Satan—disorientation is conveyed more by a plague-like itchiness than by the tendency to over-emphasise the imagery. There are a few unsettled moments in No 170 and there have been more close-knit readings between singer and obbligato organ, but the crystalline character here is original and affecting.
Cantata No 54 sits within the small surviving group of Weimar cantatas in which the voice, emblematically at least, sits as primus inter pares in the motet tradition of Bach’s late-17th-century forebears. Davies and Cohen give little quarter to emotional indulgence, as can so often be the case. What ensues is a highly refined essay of beautifully articulated singing and playing; the forward-leaning tempo never appears frenetic, with the opening movement as resolute as Bach clearly intends.
The least well-known alto cantata, No 35, usually makes up the trio but Davies forsakes this and plumps for Ich habe genug. If ostensibly a celebrated bass cantata (which the composer reworked for soprano and flute), the transition to alto works astonishingly well, but only because the soloist is so exceptionally accomplished. ‘Schlummert ein’ with single strings is deeply moving, framed by the supple and poetic oboe-playing of Katharina Spreckelsen.
Two ruddy sinfonias—reworkings of the Brandenburgs—provide agreeably colourful and vivacious interludes. Yet the dominant virtue in this fine collaboration between the outstanding Davies and Arcangelo lies in an unsentimental perspicacity, reassuring in its intelligence and deep sensitivity. (Gramophone)

68111-B. pdf download

Ilya Gringolts / Copenhagen Phil / Santtu-Matias Rouvali / Julien Salemkour KORNGOLD - ADAMS Violin Concertos

Two twentieth century violin concertos, stylistically polar opposites, but with a common emphasis on melody. Written by two very different composers who nevertheless, each in his own time, rejected the mid-20th century ascendancy of atonality and the serial composition of music.
John Adams (b.1947) is a composer who does not like to be pinned down. Being branded a minimalist has not suited him any better than did the confines of his training in the twelve-tone system while he was a student at Harvard. Adams has said that “it’s taken me 20 years to escape the corrosive effects of graduate school.” Indeed, his style has continued to evolve since his early association with the so-called minimalists Philip Glass and Steve Reich. The term itself is a bit of a misnomer – it is difficult to point to anything minimal in Glass’ Einstein on the Beach or Reich’s Desert Music. Musicologist Richard Taruskin prefers the term “Pattern and Process” music, which highlights the tendency of these composers to set patterns in motion within dense, rhythmically complex textures, and then gradually morph these patterns over time. But perhaps what the term refers to – aside from the hallmark components of repetition and a steady, often entirely unchanging pulse – is the dearth of melody that typifies the style. Adams himself recognized the incompatibility of this particular element of his music with the genre of the violin concerto:
“I knew that if I were to compose a violin concerto I would have to solve the issue of melody. I could not possibly have produced such a thing in the 1980s because my compositional language was principally one of massed sonorities riding on great rippling waves of energy. Harmony and rhythm were the driving forces in my music of that decade; melody was almost non-existent.”
As if in reaction to having pushed melody aside for so long, the Violin Concerto, composed in 1993, is relentlessly, unforgivingly, melodic. Adams has called it “hypermelodic.” The entire piece is essentially one prolonged, continuously unfolding melody for the solo violin. Not that repetition as a device has disappeared from his music – the first movement sets the solo violin’s endless melody over persistent, steadily rising eighth-note figures in the orchestra. The second movement pays homage to a time-honoured repetitive form, one which moreover holds a cherished position in the violinist’s repertoire: the chaconne. Adams evokes a second duality here, beyond that of orchestra / solo instrument, with the association of a poem by American Robert Haas, “Body Through Which the Dream Flows.” The movement’s ethereal beauty is difficult to account for, but it is easy to imagine the solo violin’s fleeting, other-worldly imagery flowing through the sublime, yet corporeal sounds of the orchestra. The third movement is a satisfyingly virtuosic romp, with thrillingly “minimalist” writing for the orchestra, all the while maintaining unrelenting melodic invention in the solo violin part.
Erich Korngold’s Violin Concerto, premiered in 1947, might also be called “hypermelodic.” Korngold (1897-1957) himself noted that the concerto, “with its many melodic and lyric episodes was contemplated rather for a Caruso of the violin than for a Paganini.” Written at a time in music history where atonality held nearly undisputed sway in musically sophisticated circles (Korngold’s music is emphatically tonal, if harmonically complex), the work was the first in what Korngold hoped would be his triumphant return to concert music, after a long and celebrated career as Hollywood’s preeminent film composer. The piece contains material in each of its three movements from several of Korngold’s film scores, the rights to which he had shrewdly secured for himself in his contracts with the film studios.
Korngold in many ways single-handedly defined the genre of the film score, but in spite of his success he was plagued by the notion that he had sold his talents too cheaply – that a “true” composer wrote music for the concert hall and operatic stage. Korngold was well-established as an opera composer in Vienna when he came to Hollywood for the first time in 1934. He returned in 1938 to write the score for 1938’s ground-breaking Robin Hood, starring Errol Flynn. Hitler’s Anschluss in March of that year intervened, and Korngold elected to stay in California, vowing to support his family by writing music for films until Hitler was defeated. (Orchid Classics)

domingo, 23 de abril de 2017

Amandine Savary SCHUBERT Impromptus

For more than ten years Amandine Savary has performed in Europe as well as Japan, the USA and Australia, building a substantial reputation as an accomplished and versatile pianist and chamber musician. 
After graduating with Honour from the Caen Conservatory in Normandy, she joined the Royal Academy of Music of London in 2003 to study under Professor Christopher Elton and Alexander Satz. She obtained her Masters Concert Project Degree with distinction and is now an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music. 
Amandine Savary is a laureate of the Tillett Trust, the Kirckman Concert Society, the Philip and Dorothy Green Award, the Park Lane Group and the Fondation d’Entreprise Banque Populaire. Her work has been supported by Help Musicians, the Martin Musical Scholarship Fund, Hattori Foundation and the Worshipful Company of Musicians. 
Amandine Savary has played under the baton of Moshe Atzmon, Hilary Devan Watton, Murray Stewart, Augustin Dumay, Jean- Claude Casadesus, Gérard Korsten, Emmanuel Krivine, Pascal Rophé, with orchestras such as the London Mozart Players, the London Pro Orchestra, the EUCO Orchestra, the Orchestre de Bretagne, the Orchestre National de Lille, the Philharmonia Orchestra, Sinfonia Varsovia, the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, and also very regularly with her partners of the Trio Dali - Jack Liebeck, violin and Christian-Pierre La Marca, cello. 
She has performed in Amsterdam (Concertgebouw), Tokyo (Suntory Hall, Tsuda Hall), New York (Kaufmann Hall), London (Southbank Centre, Wigmore Hall, King’s Place), Paris (Maison de Radio France, Auditorium du Louvre), Brussels (Flagey, Bozar, Royal Palace), Santander (Palacio de Festivales), Dijon (Auditorium), Montpellier (Corum), Osaka (Izumi Hall), Monaco (Opéra Garnier) to name but a few. 
Her discography include Ravel’s and Schubert’s Piano Trios for Fuga Libera; French songs for cello and piano for Sony; Mendelssohn’s Piano Trios for ZigZag Territoires and Bach’s Toccatas for muso. Awards for these recordings include the prestigious Diapason d’Or and Gramophone magazine’s Editor’s Choice amongst many others. Amandine Savary has taught piano and chamber music at the Royal Academy of Music since September 2015. (

Michail Lifits / Szymanowski Quartet SHOSTAKOVICH 24 Preludes, Op. 34 - Piano Quintet, Op. 57

“An exhilarating affinity for colors!” These are the words of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in a rave review of the young pianist, Michail Lifits, who is rapidly gaining international attention with his captivating musicality. In highly acclaimed solo recitals in the major concert venues and as an accomplished chamber musician, his “mature sound, seemingly full of wisdom” (Süddeutsche Zeitung) has moved audiences and critics worldwide.
 After two highly acclaimed recordings of Mozart and Schubert, Michail Lifits now dedicates himself to the masterworks of Dmitri Shostakovich: the humorous and enigmatic 24 Preludes, Op. 34, and one of the best-loved chamber music pieces, the Piano Quintet, Op. 57.

WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne Chamber Players JOHANNES BRAHMS String Quintets

There is something slightly mystical about the string quintet, with its extra layer of harmony added to the more familiar two violins, viola and cello quartet line up. For Luigi Boccherini the extra instrument was a cello, and he wrote more than a hundred pieces for that line-up. Franz Schubert followed that model on his one quintet. Mozart wrote half a dozen for a quintet with an extra viola, and that was the shape adopted by Mendelssohn, Dvorak, Bruckner, Frank Bridge – and Johannes Brahms. Characteristically, Brahms worried at the form over the whole course of his lifetime, destroying the attempt of his late 20s in his perfectionist way. The two he completed were written eight years apart and are performed here by an international group led by the concertmaster of the German broadcasting orchestra, Chinese violinist Ye Wu. They are by a composer at the height of his powers. The Opus 88 in F is in three movements and culminates in a technically immaculate example of serene pastoral counterpoint, while the Opus 111 in G major was announced by the composer as his final work, although clarinettist Richard Muhlfeld's virtuosity would make him rethink that decision. This recording is an eloquent statement of the finest Romantic chamber music. (Keith Bruce)

viernes, 21 de abril de 2017


The Emerson String Quartet is celebrating its 40th anniversary season with a number of projects, including this recording that features Britten's String Quartets Nos. 2 and 3 as well as a selection of chaconnes and fantasias from Purcell, including Chacony in G Minor, Z 730 and Fantazia No. 11 in G Major, Z 742. "It’s hard to believe that the music on this CD spans almost three centuries, ranging from Purcell’s surprisingly pungent harmonies to Britten’s distinctive voice: pitched outside the mainstream of European modernism, experimental yet deeply rooted in his extensive knowledge of older music, drawing inspiration from and breathing new life into old forms," said violinist Eugene Drucker. In addition to being a celebration of its 40th anniversary, this is the ensemble's first feature recording to include cellist Paul Watkins, who joined in 2013. (Laurie Niles)

Amy Dickson GLASS

Amy Dickson has a long-held affinity with the music of Philip Glass, and made her first recording of the composer’s music back in 2008, with a fiendishly difficult arrangement of his Violin Concerto. For this album she adds an equally challenging arrangement of the Violin Sonata, as well as two shorter pieces from Glass’s score for The Hours, arranged by her husband Jamie. Glass sanctioned the arrangements himself – a rare occurrence, and one that illustrates his high opinion of Dickson’s playing.
To play these pieces Dickson has developed a revolutionary tactic of circular breathing. This enables her to deliver the long, repeated phrases that Glass writes without taking a pause.
What’s the music like?
Busy! There is plenty of energy throughout Glass’s writing, especially in the first movement of the arranged Violin Sonata, as well as the faster passages of the Concerto. In the Sonata Dickson and pianist Catherine Milledge dovetail their phrases with really impressive clarity, and largely take away the more mechanical aspects of the music. The agile finger work and incredible breath control from the saxophonist enables her to meet Glass’s challenge of long, arcing phrases.
This music can be heard in two ways – the ear can focus in on the busy movement of the inside parts, or can just as easily pan out to the slower moving harmonies, the phrases operating in bigger blocks.
The most affecting music is actually heard in the shorter pieces arranged from The Hours, and the more restrained passages of the Sonata, whose central movement has a relatively forlorn mood.
Does it all work?
Yes, particularly in the concerto where the extra colours of the orchestra add a greater range of colours and shades to Glass’s music. At times the textures of saxophone and piano can render some of the faster music in the Sonata a little dry, but Dickson’s warm and mellow sound ensures these are short lived.
Dickson plays with passion and feeling, which brings the more calculated music to life. Pianist Catherine Milledge deserves immense credit for her dexterity with some crowded piano parts!
Is it recommended?
Yes, in the main. The music of the Sonata can get a bit too busy for some tastes, but essentially it makes a nice contrast to the already well loved concerto. (Ben Hogwood)

Download booklet.pdf

Simone Dinnerstein / Havana Lyceum Orchestra MOZART IN HAVANA

Sony Classical will release acclaimed pianist Simone Dinnerstein's new album, Mozart in Havana, on April 21. The new album, recorded in Cuba, may be her most ambitious to date and is a testament to music's ability to cross all cultural and language barriers. For it, Dinnerstein has collaborated with the virtuosic Havana Lyceum Orchestra to perform Mozart's Piano Concerto Nos. 21 and 23. In June, the Orchestra will also make their American debut in a series of concerts, the first time an orchestra of this size has traveled to the U.S. from Cuba since the revolution.
In one sense, Mozart in Havana is a return to Dinnerstein's origins as a musician. Her connection with Cuba started early with Solomon Mikowsky, a Cuban émigré who became her piano teacher when she was nine. Mikowsky would tell stories of his childhood in Cuba and the country's many musical influences. Dinnerstein recalls, "I learned so much from Solomon, and one thing was that a musical culture is not something you have to be born to but something you can choose."
Over the last several decades, Mikowsky became an advocate of Cuba's rich culture and arts landscape. When he inaugurated the Encuentro de Jóvenes Pianistas (Meeting of Young Pianists) festival in Havana in 2013, he invited Dinnerstein to play. "Of course I accepted without hesitation and Havana turned out to be everything he had told me it would be," Dinnerstein explains, "a city profoundly different from any other I knew, with warm appreciative audiences who had a deep engagement with music."
Dinnerstein returned to the festival in 2015, this time to play a Mozart concerto with the Havana Lyceum Orchestra. Not knowing what to expect, she was deeply impressed. "They played with thoughtful sensitivity and sensual beauty, despite the fact that in some cases the materials they were using were inferior. It was clear that the sound they made came from inside them, not simply from their instruments."
Within a year she had returned to Havana's Oratorio San Felipe Neri to record with the Orchestra what would become Mozart in Havana. The recording was done over three long, sleepless nights using donated strings and recording equipment brought in by Grammy Award-winning producer Adam Abeshouse. His peerless expertise helped navigate the various challenges of the late-night city soundscape including stray dogs barking, a neighbor jackhammering on his roof and sparrows rustling in the eaves of the building.

Carolyn Sampson / Freiburger Barockorchester / Petra Müllejans JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH Cantatas for Soprano

For biographer Philipp Spitta, Bach's period as organist and later Konzertmeister to the Duke of Weimar (1708-17) was the time of his ‘early mastery’. Nowhere is this more evident than in the small but highly distinguished body of cantatas he wrote there, whether for the court chapel – the Himmelsburg or ‘Castle of Heaven’ – or for some clearly very joyful wedding (BWV202). From the ravishing duets for soprano and oboe of the latter to the penitential strains of BWV199, the radiant voice of Carolyn Sampson and the virtuosos of the Freiburger Barockorchester do full justice to Bach's inventiveness.
Soprano Carolyn Sampson has been proclaimed "the best British early music soprano by some distance" by the editors of Gramophone. A native of Bedford, she studied voice with Richard Smart at the University of Birmingham, and made her debut with the English National Opera in a production of Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea and continues to appear with this company with regularity in addition to appearances at the Paris Opera. The vast majority of Sampson's singing has been heard in concert engagements with period ensembles, and by 2006 she had appeared with most of the best-known groups of this sort, but especially the King's Consort, Collegium Vocale, and Ex Cathedra. Sampson has recorded extensively for the Hyperion, BIS, Harmonia Mundi, and Deux-elles labels. (Presto Classical)

Ivana Gavric CHOPIN

Chopin', is the major new album from acclaimed British pianist Ivana Gavric, released on Edition Classics. With three highly successful albums behind her, on Champs Hill Records, her new disc explores her Slavic roots and focuses with a clarity and intensity on that mightiest of all composers for piano, Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin.
'Chopin' is a highly personal album for Ivana, as she explains: "the pervasive nostalgia of the Mazurkas speaks to me the most. My own heritage probably also explains my attraction to their Eastern European-inspired song. I have the fondest memories of dancing around my grandmother’s kitchen to tapes of polkas and mazurkas which she had brought back from a trip to Poland. Likewise of hearing my mother play many of the pieces featured on this album." Focussing on the early Mazurkas - she stops in 1838 - for their charming more-rustic and less-stylistic qualities, Ivana adds: "I have decided not to present them in chronological order, but, rather, to mirror the contour of a recital - which hopefully will cast a spotlight on some of the lesser known numbers".
'Chopin' looks set to reinforce her formidable reputation and to become one of the most vital albums from a British artist this year. With high profile concert activity, including two performances at the prestigious Wigmore Hall in 2017, Edition Classics is proud to collaborate with a truly unique talent, in a career that goes from strength to strength. (Presto Classical)

jueves, 20 de abril de 2017


Together with the magnificent pianist and regular recital partner Marta Zabaleta, Asier Polo has released a new album, which is a beautiful selection of romantic repertoire for cello and piano. Together, Asier and Marta perform four works that display technical and emotional virtuosity.
The two most substantial works on the disc are Sergei Rachmaninov’s Sonata Op. 19 in G minor and César Franck’s Sonata in A minor, and these are paired with Alexander Glazunov’s Chant du Menestrel and Maurice Ravel’s Vocalise-Etude. They are four outstanding works of great interest that demonstrate the richness of colours, ideas and sound worlds that opened the 20th century.
The CD, released on the Ibs Classical label, was recorded last October in the Auditorio Manuel de Falla, one of the most emblematic musical venues in Granada. The sleeve notes are by Blanca Calvo and include a detailed explanation of the pieces and of the artists’ interpretation, and this is illustrated with photographs by Pablo Axpe.
With an extensive discography of 14 CDs, Asier Polo returns with this new production, which is his second with Marta Zabaleta, and which promises to be a “journey to the bottom of the soul”.


To my mind the ideal relationship to tradition and to new compositional techniquesis the one in which the artist has mastered both the old and the new, though in a way which makes it seem that he is taking note of neither the one nor the other. There are composers who construct their works very consciously; I am one of those who 'cultivate' them. And for this reason everything I have assimilated forms as it were the roots of a tree, and the work its branches and leaves. One can indeed describe them as being new, but they are leaves nonetheless, and seen in this way they are always traditional and old. 
Dmitri Shostakovich and Anton Webern have had the greatest infiuence on my work. Although my music bears no apperent traces of it, these two composers taught me the most important lesson of all: to be myself. (Sofia Gubaidulina)

miércoles, 19 de abril de 2017

Musica Sequenza BACH The Silent Cantata

Johann Sebastian Bach has long been a guiding star for the bassoonist Burak Ozdemir. In his native Istanbul he regularly sang as a boy chorister in Bach’s choral works, and as a member of Early Music ensembles he later played the bassoon in all the composer’s great sacred vocal works, from the Passions to the Christmas oratorio.
With his album “The Silent Cantata”, Ozdemir pays his own very personal tribute to Bach. He has selected arias and chorales from 12 sacred cantatas that Bach wrote during his incredibly productive Leipzig years starting in 1723, and has rearranged them for bassoon and for the musicians of his Baroque ensemble Musica Sequenza.
In his programme of Bach cantatas, Burak Ozdemir plays all the vocal parts himself on the bassoon, from soprano through alto and tenor to the bass. He does not only adopt the role of soloist, but sometimes also performs a cantus firmus part such as is sung by the soprano, for instance, in the Bach original. Sensitive and with dignity, graceful and delicate, but also exuberantly happy – thus the bassoon moves without words through the sacred universe that Bach composed solely in the honour of the Lord. In the aria “Meine Seele wartet auf den Herrn”, taken from the cantata Aus der Tiefe rufe ich, Herr, zu dir BWV 131, the bassoon exudes lyrical inspiration to the swaying rhythms of the strings. Solemn and virtuoso at the same time, the bassoon warbles joyfully in the chorale “Allein zu Dir, Herr Jesu Christ” from the cantata of the same name, BWV 33. And in “Die Seele ruht in Jesu Händen” from Herr Jesu Christ, wahr’ Mensch und Gott, BWV 127, Ozdemir does more than evolve a positive sensuality in his arioso playing: the pizzicati and dabs of a portative organ even contribute a slight jazz groove. “This arrangement is the only one”, says Ozdemir, “where I give the bassoon more space to improvise. That’s why it seems very up-to-date.”
With “The Silent Cantata”, Ozdemir also creates a very special and entirely new spiritual listening experience; hence his choice of the somewhat paradoxical title for the album. “It’s this contradiction that appealed to me. The term ‘cantata’ immediately makes people think of singing, and there is really no such thing as a ‘silent cantata’.” None of the cantata texts appear on the pages of Ozdemir’s score, but their place is taken by the emotional power of music that conveys its message entirely without words. “I have a strong belief that Bach’s music can transport feelings and religious faith without any text, too.”
Burak Ozdemir has assembled the individual cantata movements to create a two-part narrative that comes close to a story of the Passion. To prepare for this, Ozdemir spend a long period of time making an intensive study of some 200 Bach arias. During this lengthy preparation phase, he focussed not so much on the music as on the texts, which he read care fully and finally chose for his “The Silent Cantata” project with the aim of giving shape to his ideal of a universal divine love. (

Musica Sequenza VIVALDI The New Four Seasons

Composers have always been fascinated by nature and the elements, by thunder and lightning for example. Particularly in the baroque period, it was very much in vogue to depict all these natural phenomena in music. Nearly 300 hundred years later, music-lovers can enjoy a new version of the "Four Seasons". For the New Four Seasons Burak Ozdemir has written four poems which, unlike the sonnets that accompany the original Vivaldi concertos, describe not the seasons themselves, but the feelings of people today from one season to the next. Ozdemir’s seasons begin with Winter, where he has chosen four Vivaldi bassoon concertos to capture exactly the emotional worlds of his poems. After all, it’s not only nature itself that has changed radically, thanks to human influence, since Vivaldi’s time. As Burak Ozdemir himself adds, the clear boundaries that used to apply between the seasons of the year have long since become fluid: "We eat strawberries in winter, and fly to sunny climes to escape the autumn rainstorms."
An ice-melting sunny dream,
Came through my window that night.
Warmer than it was,
Telling the story of overseas.
Like Butterflies…
It’s the heat on my skin, red and more
Made my pulse rough, my heart sink.
The beat was up like a dance for the rain,
What’s missing there was the green
Stars above us, flaking bright lights…
In my ear are your whispering words.
The Northern wind catches my heart,
While chilling a hot summer night.
Opening a new page of a book,
Not calm enough to finish it.
My coffee is cold, have no hands to cook.
It’s the “missing one red leave on a tree”

Glenn Gould BACH The Goldberg Variations

The historic record debut re-channeled for stereo. “Gould’s Goldberg Variations are Bach as the old master himself must have played – with delight in speeding like the wind, joy in squeezing beauty out of every phrase, and all the freshness of the spring water which hypochondriac Gould used to wet his pipes.” – Time

Glenn Gould could not have timed his professional entrance to the recording studio any better than with his première recording in 1955. Five years had passed since the lacquer disc medium had been retired and the industry had fully embraced tape recording.
The availability of digital tools for remastering and restoration has never been greater, or more refined. Yet everything starts with the original masters. Columbia Records kept very good archives of session logs, documenting which takes were recorded on which job reel, and to which musical work they belong. Gould often worked with the producer on choosing how the takes would be edited together, marking directly in the score where one take would end and the next would begin. The session reels were assembled into a “master edit reel.” If the master edit reel was mono or stereo, it would go directly to mastering, where the proper EQ (equalization) was applied for generating a “vinyl master.” If the master edit was three-track or higher, a master stereo mix would be made; this might be a generation before the vinyl master, should further vinyl EQ be necessary for LP manufacturing. Thankfully, the archives have preserved previous generations, so today we can ignore the numerous later copies and work with the original master edits.
In the remastering studio, we maintain original analogue Studer A80, A820 and A807 machines for playback of the Gould recordings. Most of these machines are modified by JRF Magnetics in order to ensure perfect reading from the playback head stack. The signal is converted to DSD via Mytek digital converters, all the while being monitored through Bowers & Wilkins Nautilus 802 series speakers (powered by Krell 600 watt amplification). This level of professional playback ensures that we hear exactly what was recorded at the studio without coloration and with greater clarity than even Glenn Gould had heard. The audio is treated in the computer using Cube-Tec restoration tools when needed, tools that allow us to remove such noises as electrical tics, pops, random studio noises, or even electrical buzzing.
Now, in 2015, we have accomplished a project that took more than three years: the analogue (and digital) remastering of Gould’s entire recorded legacy for Columbia. Remastering and restoration is not, however, a process of creating something new, but the art of bringing clarity and enhancement to the original masterpiece. Just as the restoration of the Sistine Chapel brought new life to Michelangelo’s paintings, so we’ve tried to bring new life to Glenn Gould’s recordings.

Alina Pogostkina / Sinfonietta Riga / Juha Kangas PETERIS VASKS Vox Amoris

Peteris Vasks' music should be viewed against the socially and politically turbulent history of his home country Latvia. All three pieces, here, according to Vasks, represent the polarity between optimistic hope for a better future and an anxious concern for the modern world.
Regarding the fantasia "Vox Amoris" Vasks said: "It has to do with the strongest force in the world - love. I hope that this piece touches the listener and makes the world a little more friendly and open for love." With the violin, the "voice of love", the listener experiences different sensations from a gentle blossoming to open passion.
1996/97 saw the composition of the concerto "Tala gaisma" (Distant Light", Vasks' first and so far most extensive work for violin and string orchestra. Its form consists of a sequence of strongly contrasting episodes that are partly influenced by Latvian folk music.
Almost ten years later he wrote "Vientulais engelis" (Lonely Angel). During its composition, Vasks had a special image in mind: "I saw an angel, flying over the world; the angel looks at the world's condition with grieving eyes, but an almost imperceptible, loving touch of the angel's wings brings comfort and healing. This piece is my music after the pain."
The pieces are performed by the exceptional violinist Alina Pogostkina, superbly accompanied by the Sinfonietta Riga under the direction of Juha Kangas. "You really have to rhapsodize about Alina Pogostkina: so young, so brilliant, so musical, perfect and at the same time natural." (Süddeutsche Zeitung)

Yo-Yo Ma / Chris Thile / Edgar Meyer BACH Trios

Yo-Yo Ma, Chris Thile, and Edgar Meyer have for years been musical fellow travelers and friends—brilliant, like-minded performers who have converged in the studio and on stage for several extraordinary projects. The work of Johann Sebastian Bach has often been at the heart of their ongoing artistic discourse. In March of 2016, the trio returned to the James Taylor's Berkshires studio, the site where violinist Stuart Duncan joined them to record the Grammy Award–winning The Goat Rodeo Sessions, to record the new album Bach Trios.
"The love of Bach is so central to the three of us that it is surprisingly difficult to explain," says double bassist Meyer. "It can be a shared experience, with so many pieces that we all know and have played. It can be a common dialect, from which we reference all other music. It certainly is a standard of beauty and logic that inspires for a lifetime."
Cellist Yo-Yo Ma echoes that latter sentiment: "Bach's music has the capacity to be infinitely empathetic to the human condition while at the same time being completely objective. It is because of this dichotomy that I have played the same music both for weddings and for memorials."
In 2013, mandolinist Thile released Bach: Sonatas and Partitas, Vol. 1, a solo disc for Nonesuch recorded at Taylor's barn studio and produced by Meyer. The New Yorker's Alec Wilkinson said of that album, "You have the feeling of someone trying as hard as he can to live inside the music and to breathe with it. His elaborate and often stunning playing is laced with sadness but also with a wild, delirious pleasure, a piercing happiness, even a joy."
Returning to the barn to record Bach Trios, Thile explains, "There is a religious aspect to working on Bach. It's sacred. Spending time with Bach gives any serious musician a sense of being in the presence of something higher. He's kind of a god-like figure in the music community. All arguments about who's the greatest musician start after Bach."
In his liner notes essay for Bach Trios, the composer and pianist Timo Andres admits "mandolin, cello, and double bass are, at face value, an unlikely instrumental combination, but this is an obviously harmonious set of personalities and musical predilections. There is a huge range of possibility in Bach interpretation, from the revisionist, almost authorial approach to the scholarly and historically informed. There's much to be gained from both schools, and, wisely, the Thile/Ma/Meyer trio finds its voice somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. Here, drawn in by the directness of the music itself, it's entirely possible to lose oneself for long stretches, just listening." (Nonesuch)

martes, 18 de abril de 2017

Dennis Russell Davies / Stuttgarter Kammerorchester SHOSTAKOVICH - VASKS - SCHNITTKE

Russell Davies, who really feels his Eastern Europeans, contrasts Shostakovich's lament for Dresden and humanity with Yuri Bashmet's sensitive arrangement of Schnittke's elegiac String Trio and introduces us to a powerfully moving piece by Latvian Vasks ­ Musica dolorosa. It's a pre-glasnost work whose tonal dramas linger long in the mind. Benefiting from charismatically brilliant playing, poetic phrasing and spiritiually involving bass resonances, this is an anthology not to be missed.' (Alex Orga, BBC Music Magazine) 

'The lamenting climaxes of the Vasks make an unforgettable impression here, and the link with Shostakovich is even more pertinent in the Schnittke where memories of music of the distant past (Russian chant, Schubert, Mahler) are paraded before the listener like shadows in the night. Throughout the three works, the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra deliver highly charged performances, and the recording balances warmth of tone with admirable clarity of detail.' (Erik Levi, Classic CD)

'Among recent releases from ECM, the stunning label that records the works of Pärt and others, is Dolorosa, a collection of three works by 20th century dissident composers from the former Soviet Union. These works are profoundly moving testaments to the power of the human spirit to resist oppression. Vasks' title cut, and the recording's centrepiece, was written to both express and 'console' the suffering of the Latvian people. Admittedly bleak, at times very dramatic, it is also gorgeous ­ a near-perfect expression from a 'saddened optimist' searching for a way out of the crisis of his time, towards affirmation, towards faith. Music grounded in the mire of real life that can lift the soul toward the transcendent.' (Dwight Ozard, Prism) 

Anne Sofie von Otter / Cord Garben / Berliner Philharmoniker / James Levine BERLIOZ Les Nuits d'été - Mélodies

Berlioz composed his song-cycle Les nuits d’été for mezzo-soprano; so it is curious that Anne Sofie von Otter should transpose four songs down, retaining the keys intended for contralto. She is at her best in ‘Le spectre de la rose’, although her marvellous capacity to spin lines while fully articulating the words and their meaning is apparent everywhere. Was the semitone transposition of ‘L’île inconnue’ really necessary? ‘Villanelle’, ‘Absence’, and ‘Au cimetière’ lie a third lower (as with Janet Baker), marring Berlioz’s expertly conceived orchestrations and making the Berlin Philharmonic plusher than ever. Levine is a sensitive Berliozian, but the sound is more dense than intense, the voice embedded in the texture: some might prefer it in higher relief. Five mélodies with piano are repeated from the recent multi-voiced DG Berlioz collection which I have already reviewed (see July 1994). Further hearing reminds me to praise Cord Garben’s idiomatic playing, particularly the birds in ‘Le matin’ and the storm in ‘La belle Isabeau’. The other songs are ‘La mort d’Ophélie’, ‘La captive’ and ‘La belle voyageuse’; a pity not to use Berlioz’s orchestrations of the latter pair. A small orchestra and chorus reappear for ‘Strophes’ from Roméo et Juliette, exquisitely placed. An odd collection, therefore, but infinitely worth it for the singing. (Julian Rushton / BBC Music Magazine))

Basque National Orchestra / José Ramón Encinar GUBAIDULINA Kadenza

Sofia Gubaidulina’s religious nature, specifically Russian Orthodox, finds expression in each of these pieces. Each also makes use of her much-loved bayan, the Russian button accordion played here with great virtuosity by Iñaki Alberdi. Kadenza is a solo tour de force; Et exspecto, based on the closing words of the Creed (‘I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come’) is an impressive five-movement sonata in which, the booklet-note tells us, the performer’s interpretation goes, with her encouragement, well beyond the composer’s notation.
In the other works, much is made of the combination of the accordion sounds and Asier Polo’s cello. With In croce, a number of cross-like ideas derive from the title – crossing of registers, crossing of lines and textures and so on – which are essentially private creative stimuli for the composer. But in the major work on the record, the half-hour Seven Words, the sentences spoken by Jesus on the cross are graphically, even fervently implied. Gubaidulina’s love of short motifs, here often using very close intervals, produces in her hands music of strong and even painful intensity, seizing and gripping the attention, sometimes with fiercely punched chords on the accordion or with soaring harmonics on the cello that vanish into silence after the final Word. The longest movement is the central No 4, Jesus’s cry, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’, a powerful and deeply affecting invention. This is a remarkable, compelling work. (John Warrack / Gramophone)

Lang Lang / Sophie Shao HOWARD SHORE Ruin & Memory - Mythic Gardens

World-renowned for his many award-winning film scores including “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit”, Howard Shore’s latest album “Two Concerti” shows that his immense compositional talents light up not only the cinema screen but the classical concert stage as well. Released on February 17, the album presents two specially commissioned works dedicated to the music of Frédéric Chopin – the piano concerto Ruin & Memory – performed by renowned pianist Lang Lang; and the cello concerto Mythic Gardens performed by award-winning cellist Sophie Shao.
Ruin & Memory – Concerto for Piano and Orchestra was written in celebration of Chopin’s 200th anniversary and recorded live at its world premiere at the 2010 Beijing Music Festival – whose Arts Foundation commissioned the work. Composed specifically for Lang Lang, Ruin & Memory is Shore’s musical reflection of Chopin’s time and the life he led. About the work Shore explains “The title captures a bit of Chopin’s life, about where he came from and the world he lived in, and what happened when that world was no longer there. The piece is really a love affair with the piano, the intimacy, the tactile perception of that instrument.”
For the companion piece Mythic Gardens – Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra was commissioned for Sophie Shao by the American Symphony Orchestra. Shore took his inspiration from the architecture of three classic Italian gardens: Cimbrone, Medici and Visconti Borromeo Litta. The composer elucidates on his various muses “Growing up in Canada, I spent many summers in Northern Ontario. The surrounding natural beauty of the area was and remains a great inspiration. I believe that it is through this love of nature that I was able to connect so well to Tolkien’s work. The natural world influences the form of my compositions when writing for the concert stage as well. However, it is the incredible musicians themselves, such as Sophie Shao and Lang Lang, whose artistry is always at the center of my creativity when composing.”

domingo, 16 de abril de 2017

Terezie Fialová SILHOUETTES

Terezie Fialová is one of the most prominent Czech solo piano players. Despite her age, she has been a partner to many Czech and international soloists (J. Bárta, V. Hudeček, C. Chapelle, H. Milne, J. Mráček,  J. Špaček, R. Patočka  etc). 
Her debut performance with and orchestra was at the age of twelve. Until the age of twenty, she pursued a career of a violin player in an international merit parallel to her piano career. Terezie is a Academy for performing Arts Prague  (I. Klánský) and Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg (N. Schmidt) graduate.
She steadily performs on significant international festivals (Prague, Munich, Basel, Hamburg, Sarajevo, Paris, Madrid,  Ankara, Istanbul, New York, Washington and many others) and is a member of Eben trio, with which she has won the international competition in Lausanne. She participated in Verbier Festival Academy 2013 in Switzerland as the only Czech piano player. Successful debut at international festival of chamber music in American Newport (2014) was described as "stunning performance and very bright future" by critics. She is The Yamaha Artist of the Czech Republic.

sábado, 15 de abril de 2017

Hélène Devilleneuve / Rikako Murata DUTILLEUX - DESTENAY - POULENC - SANCAN - BOZZA

The French oboist Hélène Devilleneuve, famous worldwide as soloist and also First Oboe solo of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Radio France since 1995, has selected some works from the French repertoire of which a good proportion comes out of the usual. Because if one gives often enough the Sonata de Poulenc, sometimes that of Dutilleux, we strictly never hear those of Eugene Bozza, Pierre Sancan and still less - which is not to say little - the Trio for Oboe , Clarinet and piano by Edouard Destenay. Bozza, however, was crowned with a First Grand Prix of Rome, and his style happily accepts all the influences of his time, from Stravinsky to Milhaud through jazz as well as, much further, the polyphonic rigor of Bach; Pierre Sancan, it is true better known as a great pianist and pedagogue, delivers here a delicious Sonata, with touches to the Debussy and some incursions modernist perhaps factious. As for Edouard Destenay (1850-1924), one does not know much of his life as a musician, especially since he made a career in the highest ranks of the French Army. Hélène Devilleneuve is accompanied on the piano by Rikako Murata, winner of the Maria Canals Competition in Barcelona.

viernes, 14 de abril de 2017

Yo-Yo Ma / The Knights / Eric Jacobsen GOLIJOV Azul

Azul, the Spanish word for ‘blue’, is the title of the contemplative cello concerto by Argentinian composer Osvaldo Golijov that forms the centrepiece of this celestially themed album. It is also a word that is rich in cultural resonance, deriving from the Arabic and Persian words for lapis lazuli, the lustrous semi-precious stone. The related French and English words, ‘azur’ and ‘azure’ are synonymous with the clear blue of sunny skies. 
Golijov’s concerto received its premiere in 2006, with Yo-Yo Ma, the most celebrated cellist of our time, as soloist. On that occasion he performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which commissioned the work. On this album, Ma teams up with The Knights, the Brooklyn-based group that describes itself as “an orchestral collective, flexible in size and repertory, dedicated to transforming the concert experience.” Ma’s relationship with The Knights’ co-Artistic Director, violinist Colin Jacobsen, dates back to 2000 and the start of the ground-breaking multicultural Silk Road Project. The Knights’ other co-Artistic Director is Colin’s conductor/cellist brother, Eric Jacobsen, and the ensemble – which released its first Warner Classics album, the ground beneath our feet, in Spring 2015 – has been praised by Ma for its “vibrant, energetic, collaborative culture” offering “a chamber music experience in orchestral form.” (Warner Classics)

Julia Lezhneva / Concerto Köln / Mikhail Antonenko CARL HEINRICH GRAUN Opera Arias

Julia Lezhneva is one of the leading artists of her generation. The young Russian soprano with the voice of ”angelic beauty” (The New York Times), “pure tone” (Opernwelt) & “flawless technique” (Guardian) brings “unforgettable spiritual expression” & “perfect artistry” (Guardian) performing worldwide. Her international career skyrocketed when she created a sensation at the Classical Brit Awards at London’s Royal Albert Hall in 2010, singing Rossini’s Fra il padre at the invitation of Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. 
Born December 5 1989 in a family of geophysicists on Sakhalin Island, she began playing piano and singing at the age of five. She graduated from the Gretchaninov Music School and continued her vocal and piano studies at the Moscow Conservatory Academic Music College.. At 17 she came to int attention winning the 6th Elena Obraztsova Opera Singers Competition 2007, and next year shared the concert stage with Juan Diego Flórez at the opening of the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro. 

World-premiere Decca album is OUT!
Julia Lezhneva discovers arias written by forgotten genius for the greatest singers of the time – Giovanna Astrua, GIovanna Gasparini and castrato Antonio Uberti detto ‘Porporino’.
She is partnered by Concerto Köln and conductor Mikhail Antonenko.

jueves, 13 de abril de 2017


Meredith Monk is generally described as an avant-garde artist of many talents. Of her many talents there is no question, but what exactly makes her “avant-garde”? The Random House Dictionary defines the term as meaning “of or pertaining to the experimental treatment of artistic, musical, or literary material.” This raises another question: What does it mean to be experimental? The same dictionary gives us: “founded on…an act or operation for the purpose of discovering something unknown or of testing a principle.” At the risk of reading too much into semantics, I would venture to say that Monk is anything but avant-garde, for she is interested neither in discovering the unknown nor in proving suppositions. Rather, she reveals that which has been obscured by, as well as changed by, history. She interrogates the subjective over the empirical and its effect on the flow of intercontinental relations. Thus do we get Book of Days (1988), a marriage of music and moving images that covers such broad yet related topics as nuclear holocaust, AIDS, eschatological wonder and trepidation, and the cyclical nature of time. The idea for Book of Days came to Monk one afternoon in the summer of 1984, when she was overcome by a black-and-white vision of a young Jewish girl in a medieval street. This same figure would become the locus for much of the film’s traumatic crossfire, amid which the girl has visions of her own, only for her they are of a grave and violent future. She soon encounters a madwoman (played by Monk herself) and discovers in her that one kindred spirit in a world headed for annihilation.
The film’s soundtrack was later reworked into the studio version recorded here and scored for 12 voices, synthesizer, cello, bagpipe, hurdy-gurdy, piano, and hammered dulcimer. The music of Book of Days also wavers between past and future, rendering the present all but graspable. These temporal concepts are accordingly reflected in the arrangements of each itinerant section. A triptych of monodies (“Early Morning Melody,” “Afternoon Melodies,” and “Eva’s Song”) mark the passage of the sun in the sky, the contrast of dark and light. This diurnal atmosphere is further underscored with the hurdy-gurdy-infused “Dusk” and the smooth braid of vocal beauty that is “Evening.” This chronology culminates with the delicate “Dream,” an all-too-brief reprieve from the threat of Armageddon, before opening into “Dawn.” The five scattered pieces that make up “Travellers” constitute time as diaspora, each its own lilting pseudo-canon of both hummed and open-mouthed syllables. The fourth section, subtitled “Churchyard Entertainment,” fleshes out the thematic core of the entire work in its most fully realized form. In a similar vein, “Fields/Clouds” unfurls an ethereal carpet of synthesized organ for a procession of contrapuntal voices, with Monk soaring above all like a predatory bird riding a thermal. Time’s fragility is expressed in “Plague,” a rhythmic chant of whispers, hisses, tisks, and heavy breathing: the universe in a pair of lungs. Encompassing all of this is “Madwoman’s Vision,” a masterpiece of composition and performance that flits nimbly from creaking aphasia to elegiac commentary. The album fades to black with “Cave Song,” alluding perhaps to Plato’s shadows and the illusory nature of our attachments.
The markedly instrumental approach to the human voice embodied by this ensemble lends itself beautifully to the subject matter at hand. In choosing to eschew words entirely, Monk peers more deeply into the oracular interior of her music. Relying on nascent phonemes such as “na” and “la” in lieu of recognizable vocabularies, she complicates the linearity of her effected nostalgia. Book of Days is all the more haunting for reducing that nostalgia to a liquid state and scooping up as much of it as possible before it seeps out of sight through those very cracks where her music is born. (ECM Reviews)

Jerusalem Quartet BELÁ BARTÓK String Quartets Nos. 2, 4 & 6

The Jerusalem players open Bartók’s Second Quartet with a passionate account of the first movement, knitting its disparate elements into a satisfying whole, imbued with warmth and featuring some beautiful high keening from cellist Kyril Zlotnikov. The snarling, raucous second movement is shocking in its pagan intensity, and the mystery of the slowly unfolding finale is heightened by exemplary attention to Bartók’s markings. The first movement of the Fourth Quartet snaps away splendidly, with some wonderful muscular glissandos. The cellist shows his mettle again with a robust recitative at the opening of the third movement, with beautifully spectral playing from the other players to follow. The pizzicato fourth movement is full-bodied, perhaps a little too much so when Bartók asks for quiet. In the finale the players are too wise and musical to treat every fortissimo as an attack (as some do), and there is beauty and sophistication to match the energy.
In the Sixth Quartet the playing is clear and limpid in the first movement; the Marcia and Burletta are by turns rhythmically crisp and low-down louche. The plaintive last movement is simply done and affecting. These are fine performances, shot through with beauty. The recording is close-miked and resonant. (Tim Homfray)

A whole life in three quartets
The string quartets of Béla Bartók punctuate the evolution of his style and the turning points of his existence. From the Second Quartet (1915-17) reflecting the period of World War One and his troubled personal life, through the Fourth whose exploration of rhythm, tonality and timbre produces magnificent and unprecedented sonorities in its ‘night music’, to the unbearable anguish of the Sixth (1939), as his dream of fraternity was shattered against the rise of nationalism and fascism, the Jerusalem Quartet’s programme brings us the essence of the Bartókian genius.